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Earning My Degree

Earning My Degree: Memoirs of an American University President

DAVID PIERPONT GARDNER
WITH A FOREWORD BY VARTAN GREGORIAN
Copyright Date: 2005
Edition: 1
Pages: 452
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/j.ctt1pnpnv
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  • Book Info
    Earning My Degree
    Book Description:

    David Pierpont Gardner was president of one of the world's most distinguished centers of higher learning-the nine-campus University of California-from 1983 to 1992. In this remarkably candid and lively memoir he provides an insider's account of what it was like for a very private, reflective man to live an extremely public life as leader of one of the most complex and controversial institutions in the country.Earning My Degreeis a portrait of uncommon leadership and courage and a chronicle of how these traits shaped a treasured, and sometimes mystifying, American institution. Before his tenure as president, Gardner spent seven years at the University of California, Santa Barbara, during a tumultuous era of culture wars, ethnic division, and anti-Vietnam War protests, leaving his post as vice chancellor to serve as vice president of the University of California from 1971 to 1973. In 1973 he was named president of the University of Utah, and while there he chaired the National Commission on Excellence in High Education, which authoredA Nation at Risk,regarded today as the twentieth century's most telling report on the condition of American public schools. As president of the University of California, he contended with intense controversies over affirmative action, animal rights, AIDS research, weapons labs, divestment in South Africa, and much more. This memoir recounts his experiences with these and other issues and describes his dealings with the diverse cast of characters who influence the university: U.S. presidents, governors, legislators, regents, chancellors, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and donors. The epilogue ofEarning My Degreeis a thoughtful and engaging account of the ten years since Gardner's retirement that includes his personal views about what has truly mattered in his life.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93111-4
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. ix-xiv)
    Vartan Gregorian

    As I read Gardner’s memoirs—which are also a deep, heartfelt, and loving appreciation of the University of California, which he presided over as president for almost a decade—I was reminded of what a complex, exhausting, exasperating, and yet exhilarating life one leads when one chooses to spend a good part of one’s career in the field of higher education.

    While at Brown University, I came to appreciate the former Brown president (1937–55) Henry Wriston’s description of the president’s job: the president, he said, is “expected to be an educator, to have been at some time a scholar,...

  4. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xvi)
  5. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xx)
  6. INTRODUCTION. FIAT LUX
    (pp. 1-6)

    In 1933, the year I was born, Berkeley’s population was some 83,000. Most of California’s approximately 6 million residents were clustered around the San Francisco Bay Area, the Sacramento and San Joaquin valleys, Greater Los Angeles, and San Diego.

    Berkeley was still recovering from the effects of the Great Fire of 1923, which burned most of the area north of the University of California campus; the flames were stopped or turned when they reached Hearst Avenue, then the university’s northern boundary. Berkeley’s public schools were excellent: well-educated and trained teachers, small classes, excellent facilities, and a rich curriculum. The streets...

  7. ONE YOUTH AND LESSONS LEARNED
    (pp. 7-29)

    Centered on the spine of America’s western coastline, the city of San Francisco is a fabled place of surpassing beauty and wealth, intellectual and cultural riches, accommodating nearly every taste and lifestyle and welcoming the world’s trade, commerce, peoples, cultures, and ideas through its Golden Gate. Since the gold rush of 1849, San Francisco has dominated the great bay that carries its name and one of the world’s most spectacular and visited natural harbors.

    One of the cities on the bay’s eastern shore is Berkeley. Berkeley’s flatlands, site of its commercial and industrial sectors and most of its schools, interspersed...

  8. TWO THE APPRENTICESHIP YEARS
    (pp. 30-71)

    Our family arrived in Santa Barbara on October 1, 1964, ready for a change, excited about the city and its strikingly beautiful environs, and prepared for a new and promising professional opportunity. We bought a small but pleasant home in the Goleta Valley up the coast from Santa Barbara, in a neighborhood with safe streets and younger children with whom our own could easily play and conveniently make friends. We were only minutes away from the beach, shopping, and Santa Barbara’s exceptionally attractive downtown, with its Spanish-style architecture and historical buildings. And the campus was six minutes away, also by...

  9. THREE SERVING THE UNIVERSITY OF UTAH
    (pp. 72-103)

    The decision to step away from my position at the University of California and into the presidency of the University of Utah may seemed to have been a perfectly logical step, but it was not. We would be leaving our native California, family, and friends as well as the university that was such an enriching part of our family’s cultural, intellectual, and social life. Moreover, our four daughters, ages four to twelve, would be changing schools, adjusting to new friends and home circumstances; and Libby would be setting up our new home in Salt Lake City, having just done so...

  10. FOUR A NATION AT RISK
    (pp. 104-141)

    Ronald Wilson Reagan was elected president of the United States in November 1980. To the astonishment of his party and perhaps himself as well, in the latter part of his first term he traveled to public schools across the nation, advocating their cause and seeking to improve both the work of and support for education in kindergarten through grade twelve. He abandoned the Republican Party’s education platform and his own electoral campaign commitments to abolish the U.S. Department of Education, to return prayer to the schools, and to enact tuition tax credits and/or school vouchers. How this unlikely prospect unfolded...

  11. Plates
    (pp. None)
  12. FIVE BACK TO THE BLUE AND GOLD
    (pp. 142-173)

    At the dinner table shortly after my appointment as president of the University of California in early March 1983, the family was talking about what this would all mean especially for our daughters: Karen, a senior at Stanford; Shari, a sophomore at the U; Lisa, a junior in high school; and Marci, who would be entering high school in the fall.

    The conversation was a mix of excitement, sadness, crosscutting feelings, and some apprehension with everyone seemingly speaking at once when, during a brief interlude between eating and talking, Lisa looked at me and said, “Well, Dad, you will soon...

  13. SIX THE WORKINGS OF THE UNIVERSITY AND THE CRUCIAL FIRST YEAR
    (pp. 174-209)

    The role of the president of the University of California is pivotal to the sustainability of UC as a single institution, the effective functioning of the university’s Board of Regents and of the Academic Council, the securing and allocation of UC’s resources, the appointment of its key officers, the coherent exercise of its executive powers, the preservation of its constitutional autonomy, and the discharge of its ceremonial and symbolic obligations both domestically and internationally. The president holds the single position within the university that is accountable for the totality of its endeavors, the chancellors and vice presidents being responsible for...

  14. SEVEN THE UNIVERSITY ON THE MOVE
    (pp. 210-246)

    As noted in chapter 5, the University of California in 1983 was a complex and far-flung enterprise. Its nine campuses stretched the length of California, carefully sited and planned, housing a world-renowned professoriate numbering some 6,550, employing nearly 100,000 others, and teaching more than 141,000 students. In addition to its five major medical centers and associated clinics, and more than 150 organized research institutes, bureaus, and centers, the university had agricultural lands and 100,000 acres of natural reserves across the state, all used for teaching and research as were the astronomical observatories and a fleet of oceangoing ships from the...

  15. EIGHT BUMPS AND BARRIERS ALONG THE WAY
    (pp. 247-291)

    This chapter’s title intentionally distinguishes among and betweenbumps, by which I mean uncommon digressions and unforeseen interferences amenable to resolution with little more than careful and persistent attention to the personalities and problems presented; andbarriers, by which I mean not mere inconveniences but real and persistent obstructions to the resolution of differences, impervious to the usual problem-solving processes.

    Within UC’s governing structure, the president’s office is the lightning rod. As a result, it registers most of the serious bumps and barriers. It is, for example, the nodal point for resolving issues that involve conflicts among chancellors that cannot...

  16. NINE THE PUBLIC AND DIPLOMATIC LIFE
    (pp. 292-320)

    The presidency of the University of California set me on a large stage. Its domestic and international cast included government officials and legislators, alumni and donors, diplomats and heads of state, scientists and scholars, business leaders and heads of the nation’s major foundations, presidents, vice-chancellors, and rectors of the world’s leading universities. To interact with these accomplished people in their diverse settings was an engrossing task. And, as president of a famous and respected institution, I was privileged to take a consequential role. Character and preparedness were also factors not to be underestimated, for they counted in the interplay of...

  17. TEN TRAGEDY AND TRIBULATION
    (pp. 321-361)

    As the twentieth century’s final decade began, life was good for me both at work and at home. The University of California was moving forward on all its nine campuses and planning for a tenth. UC’s academic reputation was on the ascendancy. Students were enrolling at unexpectedly high rates. And considering all sources of support, funding for the university had never been higher than in 1989–90:

    State funding per student—in real terms and on a weighted full-time basis—was at near-record levels;

    Gifts from the private sector were without precedent and growing;

    Federally funded contracts and grants for...

  18. EPILOGUE. YEARS OF RENEWAL AND PERSONAL REFLECTIONS
    (pp. 362-376)

    To move abruptly from the very public presidency of the University of California, with its 166,000 students, 155,000 employees, 9 campuses, 5 medical centers, 3 national laboratories, and an annual operating budget of $10 billion to the very private presidency of the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation in Menlo Park, a California-based charitable grant-making foundation with a corpus of $825 million, was at once difficult and welcome. Incomparable factors of size, scale, and reach made the shift difficult, and novelty made my endeavors welcome.

    Shortly after my resignation announcement in November 1991 Roger Heyns, venerated chancellor emeritus of the Berkeley...

  19. APPENDIX 1. UC’S LONG-RANGE PLANNING ESTIMATES FOR 1988–2006 BY CAMPUS
    (pp. 377-380)
  20. APPENDIX 2. TEXT OF THE REGENTS’ ACTION ON THE SEPARATION OF DAVID P. GARDNER AS PRESIDENT OF THE UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, IN SPECIAL SESSION, APRIL 20, 1992
    (pp. 381-384)
  21. APPENDIX 3. DAVID S. WEBSTER AND TAD SKINNER’S “RATING PhD PROGRAMS: WHAT THE NRC REPORT SAYS . . . AND DOESN’T SAY” ON THE UC SYSTEM
    (pp. 385-386)
  22. APPENDIX 4. UNIVERSITY HISTORY SERIES, REGIONAL ORAL HISTORY OFFICE
    (pp. 387-388)
  23. APPENDIX 5. EDUCATION, PROFESSIONAL ACTIVITIES, HONORS, AND AWARDS, WITH BIBLIOGRAPHY OF DAVID P. GARDNER
    (pp. 389-395)
  24. APPENDIX 6. SAMPLE OF ARTICLES ABOUT OR CONVERSATIONS WITH DAVID P. GARDNER, 1983–1992
    (pp. 396-396)
  25. NOTES
    (pp. 397-412)
  26. CREDITS
    (pp. 413-414)
  27. INDEX
    (pp. 415-432)